Eliminate Lead in Our School Water
Mayor Baraka Offers Solutions to Make Water in Schools Safe
Mayor Baraka testifies in Trenton for legislation to remediate lead in the drinking water at schools
Too many of our Newark schools have lead in the water above the level considered safe by the E.P.A. and many experts on children’s health say there is no safe amount of lead in water consumed by children. The lead in the schools comes from old lead pipes and soldered joints held together by solder containing lead. The cost of fixing this problem is enormous. Although there are some state funds that can be used for lead remediation in schools, the funding available does not begin to approach the need.
For a generation, the State of New Jersey has controlled our Newark schools. The State has known about the problem of lead in the water for many years, and the State is responsible for fixing it. Short term, half-way measures are unacceptable. But the cost of replacing old lead pipes and lead-soldered fixtures is enormous. In addition, as schools outside of Newark are tested for lead, it has become clear that the lead problem is not limited to Newark alone. Schools in cities and towns across New Jersey have a serious lead problem, and the money needed for remediation far exceeds available funds. This bill will be a big step toward fixing the problem.
Newark Overhauls 4311 Non-Emergency Call Center
Newark Overhauls 4311 Non-Emergency Call Center. Fixes Long-Standing Problems.
The New 973-733-4311
Twelve years ago, Newark launched a consolidated call center to provide residents with one telephone number for quick, reliable, non-emergency access to city services. People frequently approach Mayor Baraka and complain that the service does not operate as promised. They complain about unanswered phone calls, slow response or no response at all. They complain that nobody gets back to them to follow up.
Responding to these problems, Mayor Baraka has totally reorganized and updated 4311 and made it more efficient. He increased the hours of operation to 7am-8pm, provided city employees in the field with new technology to receive and interact directly with the dispatch center. The city is working to eliminate the use of paper in divisions and departments, replacing it with one single electronic workflow across all services. The system now identifies the city employees responsible for fixing a problem and holds them accountable for the speed and quality of their response. And more staff has been added to meet the demands of residents.
Residents can request all city services including but not limited to: garbage and bulk trash pickups, housing inspections, street and sidewalk repairing, snow plowing, and vacant lot cleanups. They can report concerns such as housing code violations, illegal dumping, potholes, and problems with street lights, suspicious or annoying behavior by individuals or groups.
When you dial 973-733-4311 during the hours of operation, a service agent will answer your call. Your call will be assigned a service request identification number to be used for subsequent calls and to let you know the status of your request if you call back. You also have the option of remaining anonymous. You may also call 973-733-4311 for information about city services or to get the phone number of or be transferred to a city department.
Progress Report on the 45 Day Plan to Reduce Crime and Violence
Here are the initiatives that have been completed during the 45 day plan announced by Mayor Baraka and Public Safety Director Ambrose. A plan for the next 90 days will be announced shortly.
1. OPERATE FROM ONE CENTRAL COMMAND AND PUT MORE OFFICERS ON THE STREETS.
- 50 officers assigned to patrol/ street functions from administrative positions
- 36 added and place on foot patrols resulting from class graduated in March
- 49 additional officers will graduate before August with 40 graduating in May
- In process of fulfilling mayor’s mandate of hiring 150 additional officers this year
- Command staffs and police fire and OEM all in 480 Clinton Avenue
2. STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND THE MAJOR CRIMES UNIT
- Increased the number of detectives from 8 to 24
- An increase in arrests
- Reduces retaliatory shootings, get shooters off the street, won’t become victims
- Clearance rates improved
- 4th quarter 2015 = 24% vs 1st Quarter 2016 = 63% 39% improvement
- 1st quarter 2015 = 44% vs 1st Quarter 2016 = 63% 19% improvement
3. GATHER INTELLIGENCE ON GANG'S AND VIOLENCE
- Require that all prisoners be debriefed
- Gathered intelligence about gangs and drugs
- Gather intelligence which led to suspects identifies and resulted in arrests
- Working with law enforcement partners greater use of RTCC
4. TARGET HIGH CRIME AREAS FOR COORDINATED RESPONSE BY PUBLIC SAFETY, HEALTH, SANITATION, CODE ENFORCEMENT AND OTHER AGENCIES
- Closed stores on Clinton Avenue in the Clinton Avenue and Strafford Area
- Closed stores in the area of Broadway and Grafton
- Continue to employ this strategy to target locations negative impact on QOL
- QOL operations targeted prostitution and
5. ASSESS POLICE AND FIRE COMMUNICATIONS TO REDUCE RESPONSE TIMES
- Conducted an audit of operation
- Re-instituted queue goals
- Using overtime to reduce 17000 call that were handled by Jersey City
- This is more than 325 calls per week the number is now less than 20
- 3 call-takers found not answering calls were suspended
6. REORGANIZE INTERNAL AFFAIRS UNIT TO ENSURE THAT MISCONDUCT WON'T BE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG
- Internal Affairs being relocated to a building not owned by the city – less intimidating
- Hired an attorney to oversee the trial board and the internal affairs
- Attorney will oversee consent decree compliance
- Audit being completed by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
7. HOLD COMMUNITY COMSTAT MEETING TO BETTER INFORM CITIZENS ABOUT REDUCING CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS
- Held the 1st community COMSTAT at Central High School on March 22nd
- Over 100 attended
- Overall positive feedback
- Additional locations to be identified and hosted in additional locations
- Distributed citizen surveys 55 responded
----------------- Negatives were response time, lack of police, didn’t show, dissatisfied with service
8. CONDUCT CITIZEN SURVEYS ON POLICE PERFORMANCE TO IMPROVE EFFECTIVENESS
- Randomly selected approximately 5% of reports slightly more than 1500
- 479 responses approximately 32%
- Surveys being analyzed by members of the Rutgers Police Institute --
- Results analyzed and implement training and other changes based on the survey’s results
- Will conduct follow-up survey in the future to measure progress and changes
9. HOLD PUBLIC SAFETY ACADEMIES TO TRAIN RESIDENTS ON HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN MAKING THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS SAFER
- Started the 9 week training on the 29th
- Overview of the Department of Public Safety
- Police, Fire & OEM
- Demonstrations, instructions, practical and tours
Airbnb Growing in Newark and Will Add Revenue to City Government
Airbnb is a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging as an alternative to staying in hotels. It has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. More important, many Newark residents are making extra money by participating in the website.
Across our city, people are opening their homes and apartments to visitors from across our state and country, and around the world. They're using the modest, but significant, extra income they're earning to make ends meet and pay the rent or mortgage and save for retirement.
Airbnb brings much needed tourism capacity to the city's hotels and has the potential to draw tourism dollars to parts of the city that are rarely visited by tourists. According to the company, 74% of Airbnb users stay outside of the man hotel district- and 40% of their dollars are spent in the neighborhood where they stay.
Until now, Airbnb has not been regulated and it has been very difficult to collect hotel taxes in small amounts from the many residents who offer their homes to visitors. Now, that will change. The city is in the final stage of negotiating an agreement to have the company pay Newark's hotel tax and be regulated by the city. It is estimated that this initiative will add three quarters of a million in revenue to the city.
The agreement requires that residents renting their homes through Airbnb would no longer be responsible for dealing with tax issues. Instead, Airbnb will now become responsible for collecting the tax and sending it to the city. In addition to allowing residents to rent homes for less than 30 days, the measure will prohibit homeowners and renters from changing the character of their neighborhoods. It would also limit the number of properties that one user could rent, to five, preventing the creation of informal Airbnb hotels.
Mayor Baraka's Storefront Initiative Prepares Entrepreneurs for Success
Mayor Baraka's Community Storefront Program (CSP) was launched in 2015 as part of the Mayor’s mission to see economic development activity touch all five Wards. The initiative was designed to enable Newark entrepreneurs, who have a retail business idea, to experience the full business lifecycle, concept to market. This program opportunity gives participants the practical training and experience necessary to learn to market their self-produced products.
Participants undergo a 16 week entrepreneurial development course covering an array of topics from financial literacy, bookkeeping, corporate infrastructure, insurance, leases, contracts, and more. Upon program completion, participants move into an actual “real-world” shared retail storefront (the business incubator) that is set up “flea market style” allowing each to sell their goods/services to the general public. This innovative program provides Newark residents with the opportunity to combine classroom instruction with hands-on retailing, practical training to gain the experience necessary to build and grow a retail business.
Some of the new businesses that have opened with help from the Community Storefront Program are a Juice Bar, A Clothing and Furniture store, a Video Production Program, a Martial Arts School, several Restaurants, an Athletic War store, and a Home Cleaning business.
Judge Victoria Pratt: CHANGING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ONE ESSAY AT A TIME
It’s not an everyday occurrence to walk the hallways of a courthouse and hear applause and cheers emanating from a courtroom. But, on any given day after the first gavel has landed on the second floor of the Newark Municipal Court and Chief Judge Victoria Pratt has been seated, those appearing in her courtroom – known familiarly as Part Two -- are admonished and praised, counseled and lauded and reproved and encouraged for the types of successes that are not celebrated with trophies or proclamations. These are the offenders who have been assigned to a progressive approach to sentencing – with options such community service, short-term group counseling and treatment readiness classes, educational assessments, and monitored placement in community-based treatment. This has placed Judge Pratt and her office at the vanguard of procedural justice reform and more recently, her courtroom has been visited by barristers, judges, elected officials and journalists from places as far away as England and Israel. Neighboring courts in New York extol this program as a paradigm of sentencing reform and Judge Pratt is often called upon to lecture on community justice at law schools and conferences across the country.
Judge Pratt’s favorite ruling? Sentencing offenders to reading and writing assignments. She often quotes from the book, “Misguided Justice: The War on Drugs and the Incarceration of Black Women” [Stephanie R. Bush-Baskette, J.D., PhD.] and assigns essay-writing for those she believes need to confront their inner foes. Those appearing in her court arrive with handwritten papers and a sense of pride for completing their assignments. She says of the essays, “[they] are about answering the question and the answers are always inside.”
Victoria Pratt, 42, grew up in the suburbs of Newark, the daughter of an African American father and a mother who emigrated from the Dominican Republic. Her mother, Elsie, was a hairdresser, who eventually ran her own beauty salon, the Curly Comb, in downtown Newark. As a child, Pratt spent her weekends there, taking rollers out of clients’ hair and running to the beauty supply store a few blocks away for hair dye and perm kits.
When she appeared on MSNBC with Melissa Harris-Perry, she said that, “the ultimate goal is not to have [offenders] on this conveyor belt of justice [but] to get them to have their lives together.”
Upon hearing that statement, Harris-Perry remarked that she is “truly a fan” of Judge Pratt. So are we.
City of Newark Profile: Attorney Peter Harvey
Peter C. Harvey was the first African American to serve as New Jersey Attorney General and is a former federal prosecutor. As such, Peter has been a central player in civil and criminal trials, government investigations and consumer fraud matters for many years. A gifted trial lawyer, his nearly 30 years of courtroom experience includes significant commercial matters, frequently within the hospitality, pharmaceutical and entertainment/sports industries. Recently, Mr. Harvey was nominated to serve as independent monitor for the Newark Police Department, responsible for overseeing the NPD's compliance with a Consent Decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also currently represents corporations and individuals in business disputes throughout the nation. He has tried several major civil and criminal jury and non-jury cases in federal and state courts. He conducts internal investigations for senior executives seeking to learn facts about employee misconduct or inappropriate business practices and also assists clients in navigating Grand Jury Subpoenas and government Civil Investigative Demands. He is currently a partner at the law firm of Patterson Belknap and is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. Harvey received his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School and his B.A. in political science from Morgan State University.
A Day In The Life of a Community School
Saturday, April 16th, 10am-2pm
1 Belmont Runyon Way
RSVPs are enabled for this event.
OCCUPY THE BLOCK! TAKING BACK OUR STREETS
In May 2015, following the shooting death of a young Black male on Mother’s Day, Mayor Baraka launched an anti-violence movement, “Occupy the Block”, which builds on a community-engagement model that seeks to disrupt harmful social constructs through positive activities. Each week, the Mayor, City leaders and workers and community organizers, would come together for several days a week on different city blocks that had been besieged by crime and violence and bring out music, chess sets, and other games. Occupy the Block allowed residents to walk their streets without fear and Newarkers embraced and supported the Mayor’s efforts.
The movement took time off during the harshest winter months but Mayor Baraka announced that Occupy the Block will resume beginning Wednesday, March 23 at 5:30. We hope that you will join us and invite your neighbors, co-workers and friends to do the same. The change we seek begins with us! #WeAreNewark
Occupy Newark Dates:
Wednesday, March 23 – Fabyan Pl. & Hawthorne Ave., 5:30 PM
Thursday, March 24 – South Orange Ave & Smith St., 5:30 PM